First Things RSS Feed - Christopher Benson
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60Sinners in the Hands of a Loving Godhttps://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2011/03/sinners-in-the-hands-of-a-loving-god
Tue, 22 Mar 2011 00:01:00 -0400 The recent brouhaha over Rob Bells new book,
Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived
, reminds me of why Im not at home among exclusivists or universalists. If forced to choose, I would sit at the hearth of exclusivists any day of the week, as their message does a better job of cohering with the scandal of the gospel.
The universalist message, by contrast, conforms to the pattern of this world (Rom. 12:2), tickling the ears of all those who want to hear about how a God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross,” as theologian H. Richard Niebuhr observed 75 years ago in
Kingdom of God in America
What is the core claim of exclusivism? Catholic theologian Paul Griffiths answers: “belonging to the home religion is necessary for salvation. This . . . is to deny salvific efficacy to any alien religion. But it is not to assert salvific sufficiency to the home religion; exclusivists may or may not add to the core claim the view that belonging to the home religion is sufficient for salvation.” Those who add to the core claim are restrictivists. Those who relax their understanding of what it means to belong to the home religion are usually called inclusivists.
“Inclusivism is, in its deep logical structure, either simply a form of exclusivism or a position closely derived from it,” says Griffiths. ” Both positions answer the question of how religion provides an advantage to be had in no other way. Exclusivism . . . makes belonging to the home religion essential for salvation, but it also, in some of its variants, offers a relaxed understanding of what it might mean to belong to the home religion. Inclusivism in its most common form simply makes this relaxed understanding explicit by saying that consciously (publicly, explicitly) belonging to the home religion is not necessary for salvation.” I welcome inclusivism as a happy alternative to restrictivism and universalism.
In case you missed it, the Bell vs. Hell controversy was an epic boxing match, exercising the Evangelical imagination for weeks. Bell is the pastor of Mars Hill in Grandville, Michigan and the bestselling author of
Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith
Sex God: Exploring the Endless Connections Between Sexuality and Spirituality.
(I didnt read either book because of their dopey titles.)
HarperOne promoted Bells latest book with an ambiguous but provocative description, video, and endorsement from Emergent Church guru Brian McLaren. And exclusivist backlash occurred when Gospel Coalition blogger Justin Taylor emphatically named Bell a universalist and suggested he’s a servant of Satan, invoking the warning that Satan disguises himself as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14-15).
Not having read Bells book, Taylor later deleted the scriptural text and softened his strong claim, saying that Bell lays his cards on the table about universalism. Taylors original and subsequent posts have generated extraordinary Internet traffic, so much so that if you were only reading the Gospel Coalition website you might be forgiven for thinking “Bell vs. Hell” was the most alarming news in the world“not the earthquake in Japan or uprising in Libya. Well-known Reformed pastor John Piper went so far as to excommunicate the heretic by tweeting, Farewell Rob Bell. All this h
llabaloo only reinforces the importance of the afterlife to
Exclusivists and universalists are presumptive demographers
: The former claims hell is crowded and the latter that hell is empty. By contrast, inclusivists are agnostic about the population in hell, refusing to name and number the individuals who inhabit the place of torment. God alone keeps the statistics. Theres a family resemblance between exclusivists and inclusivists insofar as they
affirm the existence of hell and believe there is salvation in no one else [Jesus Christ], for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). The feud relates to how this salvation gets worked out.
Exclusivists require a public and explicit confession of faith in Jesus Christ and a life marked by good fruit. Inclusivists acknowledge that faith and good fruit are hallmarks of Christ-followers, but are reluctant to make judgments about the destiny of ignorant or impossible souls, emphasizing that with God all things are possible (Mt. 19:26) and that God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). By ignorant I mean the unevangelized and by impossible I mean the unrepentant.
According to inclusivists, Gods rescue operation is for the entire
(John 12:32, 2 Cor. 5:18-19, 1 Tim. 2:4). This doesnt mean that all people are saved, as universalists claim, but that all are invited to the eternal banquet. People respond to the invitation with acceptance, rejection, or apathy. What happens to the rebels, fence sitters, and oblivious? While the Bible informs us that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10) and specifically names the works of the flesh that bar admittance (Gal. 5:19-21), no Christian occupies the seat of judgment that belongs to God.
There may yet be opportunities, either in temporal life or postmortem life, where individuals can encounter and receive an
presentation of the Gospel, not a mixed message of joy and terror, salvation and damnation, as Karl Barth railed against in
In itself, Barth said, [the Gospel] is light and not darkness, though he recognized it throws a shadow. Universalists err because they deny the shadow, as Bells sunny title”
”implies. If and when exclusivists err, its because they dim the light in their stinginess about Gods mercy. Each one of us responds to the light we have. Professing and practicing Christians respond to the light as if its high noon. Spiritual seekers respond to different intensities of light, as if the sun is rising or setting.
The inclusivist option has been embraced by John Wesley, C. S. Lewis, and Billy Graham. Hints of it can be found among some of the early church fathers and Reformers. I sense an inclusivist attitude in Athanasius and Karl Barth, who offer the contemporary church an ancient-future voice. For them, the key verse in understanding election is 2 Corinthians 5:14: For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for
have died (emphasis added). All human beings are included in the death of Christ, not just potentially but
. When someone comes to the Christian faith, its not a transition from being an outsider to an insider.
Were all insiders”whether we realize it or not
. Christians are simply awake to the reality of being
accepted in Jesus Christ. Barth rejects the false alternative between all are saved (Origen, Gregory of Nyssa) and not all are saved (Augustine, Calvin). All are saved insofar as the Christ event is efficacious for humanity, but
that gets worked out among individuals is entrusted to the perfect mercy and justice of God. Barth leaves the question about human destiny open in hope, a position that George Hunsinger calls reverent agnosticism.
Reflecting on the Apostles Creed in
Dogmatics in Outline
, Barth offers the most succinct and salient teaching I’ve heard on hell when he comes to the line He [Christ] descended into hell:
Thu, 27 Jan 2011 00:01:00 -0500 Since the so-called hermeneutic turn, initiated and sustained by that Teutonic proclivity for ratiocination, were told that everything”on the page and off the page”is a text, and therefore its interpretation all the way down. As philosopher James K. A. Smith explains it: There is no uninterpreted reality, no brute facts passively sitting there to be simply and purely seen. Rather, we see the world always already through the lens of an interpretative framework governed by ultimate beliefs. We could say that we always already see the world through a worldview.
Two recent intellectual biographies reveal that neither the left nor the right have privileged access to the brute fact of Barack Obama. Our forty-fourth president is a text whose meaning is slippery to admirers and adversaries alike. On the left, theres Harvard historian James Kloppenbergs
”a title that plays on the inscripted nature of his subject. Kloppenberg interprets Obama as a specimen of American philosophical pragmatism:
]]>Notable Books of 2010https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2010/12/notable-books-of
Tue, 21 Dec 2010 00:01:00 -0500 Tis the season when major transatlantic publications, such as the
New York Times
Times Literary Supplement
, feature their holiday guides and notable books of the year. Seldom pleased with the selections, I’ve put together my own list of best reads. Every book critic is idiosyncratic and I’m no exception. If my list were the curriculum of a liberal arts college, you’d notice that it’s heavy on the humanities and light on the social sciences and natural sciences. Vocational reading”law, business, medicine”is utterly ignored. Given a choice between primary and secondary sources, I favor primary. Ill take the great books, in new translations or editions, over the fashionable books (e.g., Jonathan Franzen’s
). I focus on books whose themes are perennial and whose questions are big”esotericists should look elsewhere. Expect a strong dose of religion, theology, and spirituality because these subjects rarely get attention by the secular media. Expect an overrepresentation of Protestant authors, owing to the process of traditioning (to use a favorite word of Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann). And finally, expect an ethnocentric bias toward the West, which is not a prejudice against the rest so much as a pursuit to understand my own situatedness (to use a favorite word of postmodernists).
As a reviewer by trade, I read many books every year”and come across others that I plan to read. Ive provided short reviews of my top twelve picks corresponding, presumably, to the twelve days of Christmas and then a list of other notable books in 2010 ranging in subject from photography to philosophy. There should be a little something for everyone here. I welcome feedback that affirms or criticizes my selections, adds notable titles that are omitted”especially in missing categories”and alerts me to other reviews. May St. Nicholas generously increase the holdings in your library this Christmas.
]]>Why Is The Future of Reasoned Christian Disagreement Endangered? https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/the-future-of-reasoned-christian-disagreement
Sat, 14 Aug 2010 07:00:03 -0400Why is the future of
Christian disagreement endangered? Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, has a penetrating answer in “Knowing Myself in Christ,” an essay that belongs to
The Way Forward?: Christian Voices on Homosexuality
(Eerdmans, 2003), edited by Timothy Bradshaw. Although he specifically addresses the contentious issue of human sexuality, substitute any other contentious issue in the church and his insight still applies.
]]>The Creation Story is Liturgy: A Solution to Science and Religion Debate?https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/the-creation-story-is-liturgy
Fri, 13 Aug 2010 14:09:17 -0400Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann has assisted my understanding of genre and authorial intent in the so-called “first creation story” (Genesis 1:1-2:4a). I will distill his treatment from
An Introduction to the Old Testament: The Canon and Christian Imagination
. Work slowly through each point until it builds to the crescendo at the end.
]]>A Pastoral Answer to the Difficulty of Evolution and Biblical Authorityhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/a-pastoral-answer-to-the-difficult-of-evolution-and-biblical-authority
Fri, 13 Aug 2010 11:33:07 -0400Timothy Keller, pastor of
Redeemer Presbyterian Church
in New York City and author of
The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism
, has written a paper for BioLogos called, “Creation, Evolution, and Christian People.” Pastor Keller estimates that “what current science tells us about evolution presents four main difficulties for orthodox Protestants.” Those areas concern (1) biblical authority, (2) the confusion of biology and philosophy, (3) the historicity of Adam and Eve, and (4) the problem of violence and evil. For the purpose of this post, I am going to excerpt his comments pertaining to the first area of difficulty. Keep in mind that Keller is not presenting “rigorous, scholarly arguments in answer to these questions” but rather “popular-level pastoral answers and guidance.” Click
to read the entire paper.
To account for evolution we must see at least Genesis 1 as non-literal. The questions come along these lines: what does that mean for the idea that the Bible has final authority? If we refuse to take one part of the Bible literally, why take any parts of it literally? Aren’t we really allowing science to sit in judgment on our understanding of the Bible rather than vica versa?
If God used evolution to create, then we can’t take Genesis 1 literally, and if we can’t do that, why take any other part of the Bible literally?
The way to respect the authority of the Biblical writers is to take them as they want to be taken. Sometimes they want to be taken literally, sometimes they don’t. We must listen to them, not impose our thinking and agenda on them.
Genre and authorial intent.
The way to take the Biblical authors seriously is to ask ‘how does this author
to be understood?’ This is common courtesy as well as good reading. Indeed it is a way to practice the Golden Rule. We all want people to take time to consider whether we want to be taken literally or not. If you write a letter to someone saying, “I just wanted to strangle him!” you will hope your reader understands you to be speaking metaphorically. If she calls the police to arrest you, you can rightly complain that she should have made the effort to ascertain whether you meant to be taken literally or not.
The way to discern how an author wants to be read is to distinguish what genre the writer is using. In Judges 5:20, we are told that the stars in the heavens came down and fought against the Syrians on behalf of the Israelites, but in Judges 4, which recounts the battle, no such supernatural occurrence is mentioned. Is there a contradiction? No, because Judges 5 has all the signs of the genre of Hebrew poetry, while Judges 4 is historical prose narrative. Judges 4 is an account of what happened, while Judges 5 is Deborah’s Song about the theological meaning of what happened. When you get to Luke 1:1ff., we read the author insisting that everything in the text is an historical account checked against the testimony of eyewitnesses. That again is an unmistakable sign that the author wants to be taken ‘literally’ as describing actual events.
This does not mean that the Biblical author’s intent and the genre are always clear. Genesis 1 and the book of Ecclesiastes are two examples of places in the Bible where there will always be debate, because the signs are not crystal clear. But the principle is this—to assert that
part of Scripture shouldn’t be taken literally does not at all mean that no other parts should be either.
Genre and Genesis 1.
So what genre is Genesis 1? Is it prose or poetry? In this case, that is a false choice. Edward J. Young, the conservative Hebrew expert who reads the six-days of Genesis 1 as historical, admits that Genesis 1 is written in ”exalted, semi-poetical language”.4 On the one hand, it is a narrative that describes a succession of events, using the
expression characteristic of prose, and it does not have the key mark of Hebrew poetry, namely parallelism. So for example, in Miriam’s Song of Exodus 15 we clearly see the signs of poetic recapitulation or restatement that is poetic parallelism:
]]>Multiple constituencies in the science and religion debatehttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/multiple-constituencies-in-the-science-and-religion-debate
Thu, 12 Aug 2010 06:30:31 -0400There is a peculiar American tendency to bifurcate public debates into two sides, one “pro-” and the other “anti-” (e.g., abortion, climate change, homosexuality). The science and religion debate is no exception. BioLogos has a helpful feature on their website that shows multiple constituencies with
Which constituency best describes your view, and why?
The BioLogos position on origins sits partway between two fundamentalisms: on the “left” end of the spectrum is the fundamentalism of people like Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett who are committed to the belief that the only reliable form of knowledge comes from science, and that alternate ways of knowing must be either rejected entirely or completely subordinated to science. On the “right” end of the spectrum is the fundamentalism of those who insist that reliable knowledge can only be found in an ultraliteral interpretation of the Bible, and that alternate ways of knowing must be completely subordinated to this way of reading the Bible.
BioLogos takes both the Bible and science seriously and believes that since God authored both, they must complement each other and be in harmony. We reject the two fundamentalisms mentioned above. Science is not the only way of knowing, but an ultraliteral interpretation of the Bible must also be rejected. To understand how BioLogos relates to other positions “in play” in our cultural conversation on origins, we have created the following categorical scheme into which most participants can be readily placed.
We have produced labels for the groups that help to show how they span the range of possible viewpoints. Our labels indicate what we think are the critical and defining characteristics of the group, rather than the name that the group has chosen for itself.
]]>A Conservative Legal Giant Moves Sex-Sex Marriage Forwardhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/a-conservative-legal-giant-moves-sex-sex-marriage-forward
Thu, 12 Aug 2010 06:00:37 -0400Did you watch Ted Olson’s interview on FOX News Sunday with Chris Wallace? Consider the irony: Olson is a conservative legal giant who argued the winning side of the recent
Prop 8 decision
in California. Watch the video below and weigh his argument.
BIG QUESTION #1
: Does the U. S. Constitution grant a “fundamental right” to marriage: yes or no? If yes, show evidence.
BIG QUESTION #2
: In his most radical statement, California Judge Vaughn Walker said that “gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.” Is there a legalnot sociological, political, ethical, biblical, or theologicaldefense for the gender complementarity of marriage? If so, provide details.
]]>Resources on Science and Religionhttps://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/resources-on-science-and-religion
Wed, 11 Aug 2010 13:11:27 -0400Based on the comments I received from my blog posts on the science and religion debate, I want to point Evangel readers in the direction of some resources that would inform the conversation becausewith the exception of a few interlocutorspervasive ignorance and fear seem to prevail instead of knowledge and faith.
From Natural History magazine. “Intelligent Design?” Three proponents of Intelligent Design (ID) present their views of design in the natural world. Each view is immediately followed by a response from a proponent of evolution (EO).
From Timothy Keller (Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, author of many books including The Reason for God: Belief in God in an Age of Skepticism)
]]>After the Proposition 8 Decision: Antonin Scalia’s Prophetic Words https://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/08/after-the-proposition-8-decision-antonin-scalias-prophetic-words
Tue, 10 Aug 2010 06:00:06 -0400Since U. S. District Judge Vaughn Walker
California’s 2008 constitutional ban on same-sex marriages, my ears are hearing the prophetic words of U. S. Supreme Court Judge Antonin Scalia’s dissenting opinion in
Lawrence v. Texas
(2003). Read my edited version carefully:
Countless judicial decisions and legislative enactments have relied on the ancient proposition that a governing majority’s belief that certain sexual behavior is “immoral and unacceptable” constitutes a rational basis for regulation
. . . .
State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers’ validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today’s decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding
. . . The impossibility of distinguishing homosexuality from other traditional “morals” offenses is precisely why
rejected the rational-basis challenge. “The law,” it said, “is constantly based on notions of morality, and if all laws representing essentially moral choices are to be invalidated under the Due Process Clause, the courts will be very busy indeed.”
What a massive disruption of the current social order, therefore, the overruling of
entails. Not so the overruling of
, which would simply have restored the regime that existed for centuries before 1973, in which the permissibility of and restrictions upon abortion were determined legislatively State-by-State.
, however, chose to base its
determination on a different “sort” of reliance. “[P]eople,” it said, “have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail.” . . . This falsely assumes that the consequence of overruling
would have been to make abortion unlawful. It would not; it would merely have
the States to do so. Many States would unquestionably have declined to prohibit abortion, and others would not have prohibited it within six months (after which the most significant reliance interests would have expired). Even for persons in States other than these, the choice would not have been between abortion and childbirth, but between abortion nearby and abortion in a neighboring State.
The Court . . . says: “[W]e think that our laws and traditions in the past half century are of most relevance here. These references show an emerging awareness that liberty gives substantial protection to adult persons in deciding how to conduct their private lives in matters pertaining to sex.” Apart from the fact that such an “emerging awareness” does not establish a “fundamental right,” the statement is factually false. States continue to prosecute all sorts of crimes by adults “in matters pertaining to sex”: prostitution, adult incest, adultery, obscenity, and child pornography. Sodomy laws, too, have been enforced “in the past half century,” in which there have been 134 reported cases involving prosecutions for consensual, adult, homosexual sodomy.
An “emerging awareness” is by definition not “deeply rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition[s],” as we have said “fundamental right” status requires. Constitutional entitlements do not spring into existence because some States choose to lessen or eliminate criminal sanctions on certain behavior. Much less do they spring into existence, as the Court seems to believe, because
decriminalize conduct. The
relied on “values we share with a wider civilization,” but rather rejected the claimed right to sodomy on the ground that such a right was not “ ‘deeply rooted in
history and tradition.’ ”
’ rational-basis holding is likewise devoid of any reliance on the views of a “wider civilization” . . . .
The Texas statute undeniably seeks to further the belief of its citizens that certain forms of sexual behavior are “immoral and unacceptable” the same interest furthered by criminal laws against fornication, bigamy, adultery, adult incest, bestiality, and obscenity. Bowers held that this was a legitimate state interest. The Court today reaches the opposite conclusion. The Texas statute, it says, “furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual.” The Court embraces instead Justice Stevens’ declaration in his Bowers dissent, that “the fact that the governing majority in a State has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice.” This effectively decrees the end of all morals legislation. If, as the Court asserts, the promotion of majoritarian sexual morality is not even a legitimate state interest, none of the above-mentioned laws can survive rational-basis review.
Today’s opinion is the product of a Court, which is the product of a law-profession culture, that has largely signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda, by which I mean the agenda promoted by some homosexual activists directed at eliminating the moral opprobrium that has traditionally attached to homosexual conduct.
One of the most revealing statements in today’s opinion is the Court’s grim warning that the criminalization of homosexual conduct is “an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres.” It is clear from this that the Court has taken sides in the culture war, departing from its role of assuring, as neutral observer, that the democratic rules of engagement are observed.
Many Americans do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their business, as scoutmasters for their children, as teachers in their children’s schools, or as boarders in their home. They view this as protecting themselves and their families from a lifestyle that they believe to be immoral and destructive. The Court views it as “discrimination” which it is the function of our judgments to deter. So imbued is the Court with the law profession’s anti-anti-homosexual culture, that it is seemingly unaware that the attitudes of that culture are not obviously “mainstream”; that in most States what the Court calls “discrimination” against those who engage in homosexual acts is perfectly legal; that proposals to ban such “discrimination” under Title VII have repeatedly been rejected by Congress, see Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 1994, S. 2238, 103d Cong., 2d Sess. (1994); Civil Rights Amendments, H. R. 5452, 94th Cong., 1st Sess. (1975); that in some cases such “discrimination” is
by federal statute, see 10 U.S.C. § 654(b)(1) (mandating discharge from the armed forces of any service member who engages in or intends to engage in homosexual acts); and that in some cases such “discrimination” is a constitutional right, see
Boy Scouts of America
, 530 U.S. 640 (2000).
Let me be clear that I have nothing against homosexuals, or any other group, promoting their agenda through normal democratic means. Social perceptions of sexual and other morality change over time, and every group has the right to persuade its fellow citizens that its view of such matters is the best.
That homosexuals have achieved some success in that enterprise is attested to by the fact that Texas is one of the few remaining States that criminalize private, consensual homosexual acts.
But persuading one’s fellow citizens is one thing, and imposing one’s views in absence of democratic majority will is something else. I would no more require a State to criminalize homosexual actsor, for that matter, display any moral disapprobation of themthan I would forbid it to do so.
What Texas has chosen to do is well within the range of traditional democratic action, and its hand should not be stayed through the invention of a brand-new “constitutional right” by a Court that is impatient of democratic change.
It is indeed true that “later generations can see that laws once thought necessary and proper in fact serve only to oppress”; and when that happens, later generations can repeal those laws. But it is the premise of our system that those judgments are to be made by the people, and not imposed by a governing caste that knows best.
One of the benefits of leaving regulation of this matter to the people rather than to the courts is that the people, unlike judges, need not carry things to their logical conclusion. The people may feel that their disapprobation of homosexual conduct is strong enough to disallow homosexual marriage, but not strong enough to criminalize private homosexual actsand may legislate accordingly. The Court today pretends that it possesses a similar freedom of action, so that that we need not fear judicial imposition of homosexual marriage
, as has recently occurred in Canada (in a decision that the Canadian Government has chosen not to appeal). . .
At the end of its opinionafter having laid waste the foundations of our rational-basis jurisprudencethe Court says that the present case “does not involve whether the government must give formal recognition to any relationship that homosexual persons seek to enter.” Do not believe it.
More illuminating than this bald, unreasoned disclaimer is the progression of thought displayed by an earlier passage in the Court’s opinion, which notes the constitutional protections afforded to “personal decisions relating to
, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education,” and then declares that “[p]ersons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do.”
Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest” for purposes of proscribing that conduct; and if, as the Court coos (casting aside all pretense of neutrality), “[w]hen sexuality finds overt expression in intimate conduct with another person, the conduct can be but one element in a personal bond that is more enduring”; what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution”? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case “does not involve” the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court. Many will hope that, as the Court comfortingly assures us, this is so.
THE BIG QUESTION
: Is moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct “a legitimate state interest”?